I’m sitting at the table where the five of us eat dinner together each night, and all is quiet except for the sounds of the men building our new back porch. Your daughters are sound asleep. When I laid them down, their cheeks were still flushed from the excitement of watching their brother head off to his first day of school.
I’m writing because the walk to the bus stop this morning brought me to tears, and I need to hold on to it, and I want you to experience it too. After spending the whole morning waiting for the clock to tell us it was time for school, 11:00 finally arrived. Chase burst out the front door and led the way down the sidewalk, with his jam-packed book bag falling off his back and his Winnie-the-Pooh nametag pinned to his front. Tish stumbled after him proudly wearing her new striped dress, a bun in her hair and a pacifier in her mouth. She dragged Chase’s lunch bag in one hand and her pink bear in the other. I pushed Amanda in her stroller with one hand and took pictures of Chase and Tish’s backs with the other. At one point Tish stopped abruptly, looked down and starting yelling, “No, No THANK YOU!” at her feet. I ran to catch up and there was a parade of ants crossing over her itty bitty white sandals. In tears, she plopped in my lap as we sat on the sidewalk and shooed them away, and like a flash she was off again, chasing after Chase, as always. In her stroller, Amanda smiled and shined her bright eyes up at me and the trees, blissfully clueless about what an important day it was, but the happiest one of all regardless. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the breeze touched our backs gently, like even the wind was impatient for us to arrive at the bus stop. When we finally made it, Chase shyly approached the three friends already waiting and we moms took pictures of our babies who clearly weren’t babies anymore, but were. And then, all of a sudden, we heard the unmistakable squeal of the Big Yellow Bus’ tires. The new kindergarteners started jumping and squealing too, and then there it was, The Bus, in all its bright yellow glory, like it had been painted fresh this morning just for Chase. When it stopped and the doors opened, we saw Miss Jackie, the bus driver, who gave the moms a warm, understanding smile that showed she’d once stood where we were standing, and then she greeted each child by name. After a quick kiss for me and another for Tish…Chase was gone, climbing the big stairs like he’d done it a hundred times, and squeezing into a seat between his two ladies, Madison and Abby. Then as quick as it had come, the big bus doors closed and they all drove away, while Tish and I waved madly, blew kisses, and watched the back of the bus get smaller and smaller while Chase’s world got bigger and bigger.
Tish held my hand as we slowly walked home together. I thought about what a baby she still is and how grateful I was to have some time just for her, and that she had some time just for me. And when we got back home, I picked her up in the driveway, squeezed her tight, and asked if she wanted to have some girl time. At this, she did some squealing of her own. And we hurried upstairs, put Amanda to bed, and walked into the playroom together, just the two of us, to begin our new adventure.
I wasn’t a girl who spent time dreaming about what my wedding day would look like. Believe it or not though, I did dream about what my babies’ first days of school would be like…but I could never have imagined the magic of this day, or the miracle that is our family.
Thank you, honey, for creating this day for us. Thank you for the example you set and the love you give day after day that makes our children who they are. Thank you for working hard and sacrificing so that we can live in this home, on this street, and send our kids to this school, and so that I can be home with them and experience every minute of it. Thank you for handling all of the details of our lives, and thank you for your optimism, toughness, forgiveness, selflessness, tirelessness, patience and passion for life. Most of all, thank you for loving me as well as you do. Happy sixth anniversary, husband, I love you.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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